By David Lewellen
An unexpected departure from the NACC has led to a new position for new initiatives.
Anita Houghton joined the association at the beginning of the new year as director of pastoral care and certification. She will take over the certification responsibilities previously handled by Lisa Sarenac, who returned to her previous career of elementary education.
However, Anita will also be the NACC’s connection to parishes and dioceses, and over the course of the coming year, she will take the lead in creating a curriculum for parish volunteers in the basics of pastoral care.
“This is something we’ve been trying to vision with the Board,” said executive director Erica Cohen Moore. “It has to be part of who we are to have an on-ramp to chaplaincy. But in order to really grow, it had to have some staff. That’s why we took a step back to re-assess the position when Lisa resigned.”
Anita comes to the NACC from the Archdiocese of Detroit, where she was the associate director of engagement, working on parish programming and K-12 curriculum development. “I felt it was time for a change,” she said. She had no prior inside knowledge about chaplaincy, but when her father was in hospice, “I saw up close the benefit that spiritual care can have, on a patient and on a spouse.” When she saw the NACC job description, “the idea of supporting and promoting that ministry is in line with the mission I feel God has outlined for me.”
Her first career was in information technology, which will come in handy as she develops digital curricula. “God never wastes anything,” she said with a smile.
She lives with her husband Mike in the Detroit area, where she enjoys walking, biking, and golf. She will work remotely and visit the NACC office in Milwaukee roughly once a quarter.
The opening attracted many very qualified applicants, but Erica said that Anita stood out because of “her history of working in parish and diocesan life. And her computer background is really going to help with curriculum.”
“I bring naivete and a fresh perspective, and I’m open to whatever comes,” Anita said. “I’m excited to learn something new, and I realize there’s a great need for chaplaincy.”